A Deeper Look into the Shocking Truths Involved with a Xanax Addiction

Xanax addictions are prevalent in America, especially when you consider the fact that doctors write over 50 million prescriptions for Xanax, or alprazolam, each year. Xanax is one of the most popular and common prescription medications in America. It is versatile, and used to treat many conditions.

What is Xanax?

This medication is a benzodiazepine or a central nervous system depressant. It decreases activity in the brain, and is a Schedule IV, non-narcotic drug according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). This means that it has a relatively low addictive potential. In most cases, Xanax is revered as a relatively safe medication.

Alprazolam usually comes in either a tablet or liquid form. It is used to treat anxiety disorders, mental health disorders and panic attacks. It can also treat depression and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Currently, research is focused on how effective this medication is for treating nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatments. This drug shows promising results.

Although Xanax is an effective medication, it is also one of the top 10 most commonly abused prescription medications in America. If you're struggling with a Xanax addiction, you should know that you're not alone.

Xanax Addiction Symptoms

Doctors prescribe many different classes and types of benzodiazepines. Xanax is just one of them. All benzodiazepines can become addictive with long-term use, as studies show that 44% of chronic benzodiazepine users eventually become dependent on their medication of choice.

It's not always easy to identify a Xanax addiction. Some people are able to abuse Xanax without showing any signs of dependence. In fact, many people who take the medication don't even realize that they are abusing Xanax until it's too late. If you're on the fence in regards to whether you are addicted or not, consider taking one of our addiction quizzes.

In most cases, signs of an addiction are fairly similar to all drugs. Common signs that a person is abusing Xanax include:

  • Being unable to quit successfully due to withdrawal symptoms
  • Continuing to use Xanax despite running into many negative consequences and obstacles
  • Losing control over the frequency and amount of Xanax that is taken
  • Obsessing over one's supply of Xanax and the medication in general
  • Relapsing or retaking Xanax every time the withdrawal symptoms kick in
  • Isolating oneself socially in favor of taking Xanax
  • Using increasingly larger doses due to a larger tolerance to the medication

Long-term Xanax use can lead to abuse, tolerance and dependence, even if the medication is used as prescribed. It can be difficult for many users to even realize that they have become addicted to Xanax.

Many people are under the misconception that Xanax is not a dangerous drug because doctors prescribe it. This could not be further than the truth

Xanax is just as addictive as many other drugs that are out there. The risk of addiction is highest for those who take over 4mg a day for a period longer than 12 weeks. With that said, anyone who abuses the drug has a risk of getting addicted to Xanax.

Effects of Xanax Use

In comparison to many other prescription medications, there are quite a few Xanax side effects. Most are relatively minor, and are not too big of a concern. They are merely caused by chemical reactions caused by alprazolam in the body.

Not everyone will experience short-term side effects; however, it's safe to say that most people will experience one or two. It's not unusual for the body to react to the medication. Common short-term side effects of Xanax include:

  • Anxiety
  • Ataxia
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in appetite
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Constipation
  • Decreased libido
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulties in micturition
  • Drowsiness
  • Dysarthria
  • Fatigue
  • Hypotension
  • Increased libido
  • Insomnia
  • Memory impairment
  • Muscle twitching
  • Sexual disorder
  • Skin rash
  • Weight gain or loss

In general, side effects of alprazolam do not need any medical attention. They go away with treatment, and as the body adjusts to the medicine. If you are experiencing any alprazolam side effects, speak with your healthcare provider immediately. Your doctor may be able to recommend methods that will prevent or reduce the intensity of any side effects you're experiencing.

It's also wise to check in with your doctor to see if there are any other alternative medications available. If the side effects are too troublesome, it may be a good idea to switch to another type of medicine.

Long-Term Side Effects of Xanax Use

People who abuse Xanax for extended periods of time may experience long-term side effects. These long-term Xanax side effects may range from mild to severe, and can have a lasting effect. Most of the time, the long-term side effects are due to the body sustaining some form of permanent damage.

Xanax Recovery

Common long-term side effects of Xanax include:

  • Aggression and impulsive behavior
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Delirious states
  • Depression
  • Memory impairment
  • Psychotic experiences

The most common long-term side effect of Xanax is actually memory impairment. In most cases, a user's short-term memory will be affected. This may happen due to the fact that it is difficult for the user to focus and concentration on retaining information.

The severity of long-term effects of Xanax may become much more pronounced if the medication is mixed with other drugs, or even alcohol. In particular, mixing Xanax and alcohol may result in periods of sedation that last for up to 4 days.

Polydrug Abuse

It's not unusual for people who are addicted to benzodiazepines, like Xanax, to mix it with other drugs and alcohol. Polydrug abuse may involve heroin and alcohol. Mixing drugs together may help users achieve a bigger high.

One of the most common substances involved is alcohol. Studies show that over 80% of benzodiazepine addicts are cross dependent on alcohol as well.

Unfortunately, alcohol is also a depressant like Xanax. This means that mixing the two together can increase the risk of overdose. In fact, mixing benzos with alcohol caused nearly 164,000 emergency room trips between 2004 and 2011.

Polydrug abuse can lead to serious health consequences. 40% of those who went to the emergency room either required long-term hospitalization or sustained a disability. Some people even died.

You should never mix Xanax with any alcohol or drugs. If you're on the medication, you will have to quit drinking entirely.

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Much like when quitting other drugs, people who are quitting Xanax may run into some withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms emerge when the body has developed dependence on the medication.

Xanax alters the concentration of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Over time, the body will adjust and adapt to these altered chemistry levels. When quitting Xanax abruptly, the body does not have time to adjust to the fluctuating GABA levels. This leads to withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Irritability
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures and tremors
  • Sleep disturbances

Check out the withdrawal handbook to learn more about what you should expect. The best way to avoid Xanax withdrawal symptoms completely is to gradually taper off of the medication. If the taper is in small enough doses, the patient should not experience any emotional or physical withdrawal symptoms at all.

Xanax Withdrawal Timeline

It takes the body anywhere from 2 to 4 days to clear Xanax. The exact timeline will differ from person to person. It depends on factors like the user's age, metabolism, body mass and liver and kidney condition. It also depends on the size of the dosage taken. 

The Xanax withdrawal symptoms will kick in before the drug is cleared from the body. In most cases, symptoms will start to emerge after 24 to 72 hours of the last dose. This is when the withdrawal symptoms are most severe and intense. The user also has a greater risk of seizures during this time. 

After the 1st week, the worst has passed, although users may still struggle with depression and mood swings. Most of the emotional symptoms will subside by the 2nd week, and will usually disappear completely by the 3rd and 4th week. The same can be said for physical withdrawal symptoms. 

Most users will feel completely fine by the end of the month. With that said, some people do struggle with psychological withdrawal symptoms for months.

Is Quitting Xanax Cold Turkey Dangerous?

The ultimate question on many people's mind is whether quitting Xanax cold turkey is dangerous or not.

In most situations, while Xanax withdrawal symptoms may be difficult to bear, they are not life threatening. Most people who are quitting Xanax cold turkey won't sustain any permanent damage.

Still, it's better to be safe than sorry. This is because there have been several cases where a cessation of Xanax use has led to death. It's important to note that these cases are not common. In fact, they're considered to be highly unusual.

Detox from Xanax

The best way to ease off of Xanax is to gradually wean off of it with a taper plan. The taper plan should be carefully supervised by a medical professional to ensure that it is safe. 

Most experts recommend tapering off of Xanax by reducing the dose by 0.5mg every 3 days. Others recommend a range between 0.25mg to 0.4mg every 3 to 4 days. Your doctor will want to work with you to see what works best for your body. 

This means that the taper plan is adjustable, and the taper dose may fluctuate. In most cases, the dose is reduced as the dose is lowered more and more. 

Other than a taper, a Xanax detox will usually involve the use of various medications. These medications may help curb cravings or lessen the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Counselling and therapy are also often recommended in conjunction with the medical detox. The therapies will help you learn how to manage your cravings and make better life decisions.

Slowly Wean Off of Alprazolam

Even if Xanax is used as prescribed, it can still be addictive. It is vital that those who use Xanax are aware of this fact, and have weighed the benefits and risks with their doctors.

If you have noticed that your use Xanax use has graduated to abuse, it's time to stop. Speak to your doctor about your concerns, and seek addiction treatment. Some treatments are designed specifically for Xanax addictions. These treatment plans will not only help you taper off of the drug, but also reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. You could lead a healthy and sober life today.

Talk to a Rehab Specialist

Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

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